Hydronephrosis – causes, symptoms, and treatments

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Hydronephrosis – An overview

Hydronephrosis is a condition that occurs due to the swelling of the kidney. The swelling occurs when the urine fails to drain to the bladder.

Usually swelling happens to only one kidney.

Hydronephrosis is a condition caused by an underlying disease. It is caused when there is a blockage in the urinary tract.

How can we identify hydronephrosis?

In normal conditions, the urine flows through the track with minimum pressure. The pressure can build up if there is a blockage in the track. When there is urine buildup for a long period of time, the kidney will enlarge.

Hydronephrosis may occur in either the left kidney or right kidney. In rare cases, it may occur in both kidneys.

The commonly exhibited mild symptoms of hydronephrosis are:

  • Frequent urination
  • Urge to urinate often

Other severe symptoms include:

What are the complications of hydronephrosis?

Hydronephrosis can lead to further complications like a urinary tract infection. The UTI causes problems like:

If a person displays any of the above-mentioned symptoms, it is necessary to schedule an appointment with a doctor. If these symptoms are left untreated it will lead to a more serious condition like a kidney infection or blood poisoning.

It is important to seek medical assistance because if hydronephrosis is left untreated, it can lead to permanent loss of kidneys and other life-threatening conditions.

What are the causes of hydronephrosis?

Hydronephrosis is not a primarily caused disease. Instead, it is caused by internal or external conditions that affect the urinary collecting system. Another disease may be the underlying cause of hydronephrosis.

The most common cause for this blockage is kidney stones. Blood clots can also sabotage the flow of urine. The core reason for the problem is the sudden development of obstruction or blockage in any one of the ureters.

The ureters are the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder. Blocked urine goes back to the kidney, resulting in the swelling of the kidney. This backward flow of urine to the kidney is called vesicoureteral reflux.

Some of the other causes include:

  • Enlarged prostate glands
  • Pregnancy causes compression due to a growing fetus.
  • Tumors near the ureter.
  • Injuries and
  • Birth defects.

How to diagnose hydronephrosis?

Diagnosis of the kidney is important. Kidneys have the tendency to be damaged permanently if the symptoms are left untreated.

A doctor will assess the overall health of the patient and assess the symptoms exhibited. Tests are made to study the symptoms of UTIs. A medical professional would feel the enlarged kidney by gently massaging the abdomen area.

Ultrasound or CT scans are performed to have a closer look at the kidneys and locate the area of blockage. Ultrasounds are considered the best diagnosis as it allows a doctor to get a closer look at the kidneys.

How can we treat hydronephrosis?

The simple logic behind the treatment of hydronephrosis is to get rid of the blockage in the urinary tract. The treatment will eliminate the cause of the obstruction. If it is caused by any other disease, then the disease is treated first.

The standard treatments for hydronephrosis are as follows:

  • Inserting a ureteral stent that will drain out the urine
  • Inserting a nephrostomy tube to drain the urine
  • Antibiotics to contain the infection.

In some cases, surgeries are also an option to remove the obstacles. If the blockage occurs due to a blood clot or infection, then a doctor would remove the affected area and reconnect the ureter for normal flow.

In case of kidney stones, the doctor would perform endoscopic surgery to remove the stones. Tiny instruments are used to remove the stones formed inside the bladder. This would reduce the healing and recovery time.

Antibiotics are prescribed to prevent the development of infection.

Drinking adequate water is recommended to avoid further complications of mild hydronephrosis. On average it is recommended to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water per day to avoid dehydration.

To sum up

Kidneys are vital organs of our body. It is important to keep it healthy. Removing the blockage is important to ensure the kidneys function normally.

Receiving treatment early is good. It will help manage symptoms and eliminate the cause of the problem. The icing on top of the cake fact is that the success rate for hydronephrosis surgeries is approximately 95%.


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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